Intercultural Communication Chapter 6 Cultural Identity and Cultural Biases
Cultural Identity • As part of the socialization process, children learn to view themselves as members of particular groups. • People have the tendency to categorize themselves and others into ingroups and outgroups.
The Nature of Identity • Identity or self-concept, is built on an individual’s cultural, social, and personal identities.
Your Cultural Identity • Formed in a process that results from membership in a particular culture. • Involves learning about and accepting the: • traditions, heritage, language, religions, ancestry, aesthetics, thinking patterns, and social structures of society. • People internalize the beliefs, values, norms, and social practices of their culture and identify with that culture as part of their self-concept.
Your Social Identity • Develops as a consequence of membership in particular groups within one’s culture. • Common characteristics/concerns shape the way individuals view these characteristics. • Types of groups people identify with can vary widely and might include perceived similarities due to: • age, gender, work, religion, ideology, social class, place (neighborhood, region, and nation), and common interests.
Your Personal Identity • Refers to people’s unique characteristics, which may differ from those of others in their cultural or social groups. • (Remember, there is a great deal of interdependence among these three aspects of identity.)
Formation of Cultural Identity • Unexamined cultural identity stage. • Lack of interest in cultural issues. • Taking one’s own cultural characteristics for granted. • Lacks an awareness of cultural differences and the distinguishing characteristics of one culture to another. • Unquestioningly accept the prevailing stereotypes held by others. • May internalize common stereotypes of their own culture and themselves.
Formation of Cultural Identity • Cultural identity search • Involves exploration and questioning about one’s culture in order to learn more about it. • By exploring their culture, individuals can learn about its strengths and may come to a point of acceptance both of their culture and of themselves. • For some individuals, a turning point or crucial event precipitates this stage.
Formation of Cultural Identity • Cultural identity search • Common to this stage is an increased social and political awareness along with an increased desire to learn more about one’s culture. • There may be an emotional component in this stage which can involve tension, anger, and even outrage directed toward other groups.
Formation of Cultural Identity • Cultural identity achievement • The acceptance of oneself and an internalization of one’s cultural identity. • People have developed ways of dealing with stereotypes and discrimination so that they do not internalize others’ negative perceptions and are clear about the personal meanings of their culture. • This outcome contributes to increased self-confidence and positive psychological adjustment.
Characteristics of Cultural Identity • Provide a framework for organizing and interpreting one’s experiences of others. • Cultural identities are central to one’s sense of self. • Like gender and race, your culture is more “basic” because it is broadly influential and is linked to a great number of other aspects of your self-concept.
Characteristics of Cultural Identity • Living in another culture or interacting with a person from a different culture can trigger an awareness of your own identity. • Most of your experiences are interpreted by your cultural membership. • Cultural identities are dynamic and change with one’s ongoing life experiences. • Cultural identities are multifaceted.
Cultural Biases-Social Categorizing • We impose patterns by organizing stimuli into conceptual categories. • We are constantly bombarded with hundreds of perceptual stimuli. • It becomes necessary to organize the stimuli into categories, groupings, and patterns. • Culture helps people to organize perceptual cues to impose meaning.
Cultural Biases-Social Categorizing • Most people think that other people perceive, evaluate, and reason about the world in the same way that they do. • Humans assume that other people are like themselves. • The human tendency to draw upon their own experiences to understand and evaluate others is an aspect of ethnocentrism.
Cultural Biases-Social Categorizing • Humans simplify the processing and organizing of information by identifying certain characteristics as belonging to certain categories of persons and events. • The characteristics of particular events, persons, or objects, once experienced, are often assumed to be typical of similar events, persons, or objects. • Though these assumptions are sometimes accurate, often they are not.
Cultural Biases-Ethnocentrism • The beliefs, values, and practices of one culture are viewed as superior others. • People have the tendency to evaluate other cultures using their own cultural categories. • People from other cultures who do things differently are viewed as “wrong.” • It produces emotional reactions to cultural differences that reduce people’s willingness to understand disparate cultural messages. • It tends to highlight and exaggerate cultural differences.
Cultural Biases-Ethnocentrism • All cultures can be ethnocentric. • To be a competent intercultural communicator, you need to: • Recognize how your own culture influences your judgments of others, • be aware of your emotional reactions to such judgments, and • acknowledge the existence of your judgments to minimize their effect on your communication.
Cultural Biases-Stereotyping • A generalization about a group of people. • Making assertions about the characteristics of all people who belong to that category. • It is a selection process that simplifies perceptions of others and leads to generalizations about a group of people. • Groups can be stereotyped based on their: • Religion, age, occupation, social class, geographical location, and other characteristics.
Cultural Biases-Stereotyping • Stereotypes can be inaccurate in 3 ways. 1-Inaccuracies occur when stereotypes are assumed to apply to all members of a group or category, resulting in a tendency to ignore differences among the individual members of the group. • This type of stereotyping effect is called the outgrouphomogeneity effect. • When this happens, all members of a particular group are perceived as much more similar to one another than they actually are.
Cultural Biases-Stereotyping 2-Inaccuracies occur when the group average, as suggested by a stereotype, is simply wrong or inappropriately exaggerated. 3-Inaccuracies occur when the degree of error and exaggeration differs for positive and negative attributes.
Cultural Biases-Stereotyping • A positive valence inaccuracy occurs when overestimating the prevalence and importance of a culture’s positive characteristics. • A negative valence inaccuracy occurs when exaggerating a culture’s negative attributes while ignoring or devaluating its positive ones (this is often called prejudice). • Stereotype inaccuracy can lead to errors in interpretations and expectations about the behaviors of others.
Cultural Biases-Stereotyping • Stereotypes provide the basis for estimating, often inaccurately, what members of the group are likely to do. • Stereotypes lead to expectations about people’s behaviors and may persist even when the expectations are violated. • While stereotyping is essential to all humans, intercultural competence requires an ability to move beyond stereotypes.
Cultural Biases-Prejudice • Attitudes toward other people that are based on faulty and inflexible stereotypes. • Prejudiced attitudes include irrational feelings of dislike and even hatred for certain groups. • Biased perceptions and beliefs about group members not based on experience or knowledge. • Leads to a readiness to behave in negative and unjust ways toward members of the group. • Universal psychological process; all people can be prejudice toward others not like themselves.
Cultural Biases-Prejudice • Functions of prejudice • Helps organize and simplify the world. • It satisfies a utilitarian or adjustment function. • Certain people may like us more. • The ego-defensive function protects self-esteem. • Make ourselves feel better by putting down others. • It serves a value-expressive function. • Differentiates our own values. • It serves a knowledge function. • Provide security and sense of predictability.
Cultural Biases-Discrimination • Refers to behavioral manifestations of prejudice; it is prejudice in action. • Occurs in many forms from: • segregation and apartheid to • biases in housing, employment, education, economic resources, personal safety and legal protections. • It is the unequal treatment of certain individuals because of their membership to a particular group.
Cultural Biases-Racism • Blauner describes racism as a tendency to categorize people who are culturally different in terms of their physical traits such as skin color, hair color and texture, facial structure, and eye shape. • Taylor focuses on the behavioral aspects of racism by defining it as the cumulative effects of individuals, institutions, and cultures that result in the oppression of ethnic minorities.
Cultural Biases-Racism • At the individual level, racism is conceptually very similar to prejudice. • It involves beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of a given person toward people of a different racial group. • Positive contact and interaction between members of two different cultural groups can sometimes change discriminatory attitudes.
Cultural Biases-Racism • At the institutional level, racism is the exclusion of certain people from equal participation in the society’s institutions solely because of their race. • Built into social structures like government, schools, the media, and industry practices. • It leads to certain patterns of behaviors and responses to specific racial or cultural groups that allow those groups to be systematically exploited or oppressed.
Cultural Biases-Racism • At the cultural level, racism denies the existence of the culture of a particular group and involves the rejection of the culture’s beliefs and values.
Cultural Biases-Racism • Racism is about: • Oppression-the systematic, institutionalized mistreatment of one group of people by another. • Power-the tendency by groups in control of institutional and cultural power to use it to keep members of groups who do not have access to the same kinds of power at a disadvantage.
Cultural Biases-Racism • Types of racism • Old-fashioned racism • Openly display bigoted views. • Symbolic racism (also called modern racism) • “Undeserving outgroups move too fast towards social change and will achieve economic/social success at my expense and I fear for my core values.” • Tokenism • Reverse discrimination. • “I’m not a racist, I have a Black friend.”
Cultural Biases-Racism • Aversive racism • Individuals who value fairness and equality nevertheless have negative beliefs and feelings about members of a particular race. • Genuine likes and dislikes • Cultural practices a group displays are not liked by members of another group. • Degree of unfamiliarity • Lack of experience can lead to negative attitudes.
Identity, Biases, Contact, and Cultural Competence • Improve your cultural competence • Describe your own cultural identity; be sure to include both the positive and negative aspects. • Take an honest inventory of the various ways in which you categorize other people and they categorize you.
Identity, Biases, Contact, and Cultural Competence • We all face intercultural challenges. • The ability to adapt to intercultural settings – to maintain positive, healthy relationships with people of cultures other than your own – is the hallmark of the interculturally competent individual.